Fox television is a strange little network. For some reason they keep landing cutting edge shows with incredibly tight writing. Comedies, Dramas, Animation, all sorts of shows that pushed the barriers of modern entertainment.
After acquiring these jewels, they proceeded to play three card Monty with the time slot thus preventing any sort of fan base to build and then without notice, cancel the show. Sometimes they canceled it after an entire season aired, other times they canceled it before the halfway mark. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to their actions.
You’d think with their history of show abuse people would stop pitching them awesome ideas (ie. Torchwood), but diamonds keep getting thrown at them Either the producers have selective memory loss or they foolishly hope “this time it’ll be different”. Talk to any geek, nerd or dork and they’ll spout out at least 5 shows they loved on Fox that were mercilessly killed in the cradle. Since the actual list is SO VERY LONG I’ll just highlight a couple of shows that were near and dear to me.
Taken Too Soon
This little gem had the misfortune of not only being on Fox, but also butting up against X-Files in its heyday. Right out of the gate, the show had gold written all over it. The premise was fantastic: Cop murdered his wife’s rapist because the system let him loose. Cop later died while stopping a thief and was sent to Hell. After spending 15 years there, he’s released by the Devil to track down 113 souls who escaped from Hell. I’m salivating just thinking about it.
The casting was brilliant too. John Glover (who’s good in EVERYTHING) played the Devil. Peter Horton got to flex his acting muscles outside of thirtysomething. Even Lori Petty made an appearance (I confess, Tank Girl is a guilty pleasure of mine).
I only recently came across this series which spared me the pain of seeing it cancelled and also allowed me to watch it in the correct order. Yes, Fox did one of its famous “shuffle the episodes around so the story doesn’t make sense” routines. Fringe, Firefly and countless other shows have suffered this same fate. Nothing makes a viewer happier than a pointlessly confusing storyline.
Under different circumstances Brimstone could have gathered a solid cult following, but with the mixed up plot and random time slot, it never had a chance to meet that audience. Fingers crossed this eventually makes it to DVD.
It hurts me just thinking about how fucked Firefly was by Fox, even though the show’s deck was stacked with Aces. You had Western meets Sci-Fi (a beautiful marriage), top notch writing by Joss Whedon (he is my master now), and inspired casting (Summer Glau, Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau, Morena Baccarin and did I mention Summer Glau?).
What it didn’t have was ratings. Of course, constantly shuffling timeslots didn’t help and neither did out-of-order episodes. In spite of all that manhandling by Fox, Whedon somehow got a movie made. The Browncoats rallied forth in an attempt to revive the series, but sadly the film didn’t even break even.
Without a big box office to revitalize Firefly, the series quietly rode off into the sunset.
Oh, the satirical masterpiece which was the live-action version of The Tick. Patrick Warburton threw himself body and soul into playing the big blue guy. Hell, all the casting for the show was great and everyone gave 100% to their roles. In my opinion, the cast of The Tick was as fearless as The Kids in the Hall in their prime.
The discrepancies between the comic and the TV show actually worked in its favor. Changing Die Fledermaus into Batmanuel was a genius move, letting Nestor Carbonell use the wonderful comedic timing he honed in Suddenly Susan. David Burne did an awesome job with Arthur (though for some reason I could also see Steve Guttenberg playing the part) and now watching Liz Vassey (who played Captain Liberty) on CSI makes me giggle.
The show really captured the wacky spirit of the comic and cartoon series. Its cancellation was yet another case of Fox not giving the show time to find an audience.
Kill, Revive, Repeat
This was a weird one. They cancelled Family Guy the first time after only two episodes of the second season aired which isn’t strange by Fox standards. Green-lighting it for a the third season after having announced the cancellation was schizo to say the least.
Then during the third season they cancel it AGAIN. Thanks to skyrocketing DVD sales and strong syndication revenue, Fox decided to bring Family Guy back. I don’t know if this odd behavior was the right hand not knowing what the left is doing or simply network executives who can’t tell their asshole from a hole in the ground.
The one good thing about Fox’s bipolar treatment of Family Guy was that there’s finally definitive proof that voting with your wallet can make a difference. Don’t give me a petition to sign or a letter writing campaign. Buy a show’s swag and it’ll have a long, healthy life.
What’s Next On The Chopping Block?
For a little while Human Target and Lie To Me were dead men walking, but then someone had a moment of clarity and renewed them both. Fox’s idiotic behavior still pales in comparison to NBC’s gross ineptitude. I mean who kills a TV show that’s headlined by David Tennant before it gets off the ground? Or the whole O’Brien-Leno debacle. Only NBC is capable of that level of stupidity.
What TV shows have you loved that met an untimely fate? Did I miss any of your favorites?